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Playing Politics with ScienceBalancing Scientific Independence and Government Oversight$
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David B. Resnik

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195375893

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195375893.001.0001

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Government Science Advice

Government Science Advice

(p.89) 4 Government Science Advice
Playing Politics with Science

David B. Resnik (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter reflects on the importance of expert, scientific opinion in government decision‐making and describes an ideal model of the role of expertise in government. It discusses some problems that can occur with government science advice, including stacking of government committees/panels, ignoring expert opinion, misinterpreting expert opinion, censoring expert opinion, and funding problems. To avoid these problems, the government must take steps to secure independent, open, and adequately funded scientific advice; one way to do so may be to increase its utilization of nonpartisan organizations, such as the National Academy of Science. When the government relies on advice from special panels/committees, it must ensure that appointments are based on scientific qualifications, not on politics or ideology, and an effort should be made to ensure that committees/panels have bipartisan, diverse representation. Deliberations should be open to the public so that people can understand their arguments, deliberations and assumptions. Politicians and government officials should not ignore, misinterpret, or censor scientific advice. To ensure that these recommendations are followed, it may be necessary to develop strategies, such as congressional oversight, for government decisions involving expert, scientific advice.

Keywords:   science, advice, expertise, panels, committees

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